UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
DIVISION OF BOTANY,
Washington, D. C., March 1, 1898.
DEAR SIR: In response to your inquiry relative to the importance of setting aside Crater Lake as a national park, I would say that in my opinion such action would have a strong influence on the protection of the remarkable beauties of the place.
Crater Lake lies within about 4 miles of the crest of the Rogue River and Fort Klamath road, one of the old country roads crossing the Cascade Mountains. Hundreds of the people of Oregon go to the lake each year, and their number is constantly increasing.
I have visited Crater Lake three times, once in 1896, twice in 1897 and I am convinced that if its natural beauties are to be preserved and made more easy of access, as the people of Oregon desire, some improvement over present conditions of management is necessary. I estimate that from 3,000 to 5,000 acres of the forests in the proposed reservation have been destroyed by fire. In 1896, at the time of my visit, several small, though not so far very destructive, forest fires were burning. In 1897 I found a small fire burning near the summit of the road on the western slope and another near the head of Anna Creek Canyon on the eastern slope, and I was informed that a few weeks later a fire occurred on Wizard Island in the lake itself. In previous years one fire burned off a strip of forest right up to the edge of the Crater.
Commercially these fires are of little importance, as most of the species of trees in the vicinity are not valuable for lumber, and the small proportion that would make valuable lumber is so far removed from a market that it will probably never have any commercial value; but with regard to æsthetic considerations it is clear that unless a better supervision of the area than has heretofore been possible is provided in the near future the burning of timber will continue until one of the chief beauties of Crater Lake has been destroyed. The moral effect of making the lake a national park, added to the protection afforded by an efficient fire guard, will do more than anything else to preserve the forests.
Very sincerely, yours,
FREDERICK V. COVILLE,